Attachment is to be avoided if sex is to remain casual, and therefore the script of behaviors associated with the hookup exist to prevent such attachments.
Changing the dark side of the hookup culture is an urgent goal—but I’m not convinced that widespread casual sex fits well with that goal because it was in part the effort to have “meaningless” sex without attachment that brought us the hookup culture in the first place.
As a college student, I remember attending a book talk of Hanna Rosin’s, during which Rosin commented that she was baffled as to why, but that national surveys showed that married evangelical women reported higher sexual satisfaction than other groups.
Rosin wondered aloud if evangelical women just felt pressured to exaggerate their sexual satisfaction, but I think that it’s more likely the case that commitment increases trust, kindness, and the other traits that Wade identifies as “enhancing sexual encounters.” But any discussion of the way commitment may level the power dynamics and create conditions for more mutual pleasures was largely absent from this book.
And as one black student put it, “If I started hooking up my friends would be saying I’m, like, ‘acting white.’” Poor and working-class students of all races were also more likely to opt out, and those in the LGBTQ community often felt unwelcome in the college party scene.
In her students’ accounts, this contributed to the feeling of being an outsider and missing the “whole college experience.” While it may have been too much ground to cover, I would have liked to see more exploration of why poor and working-class students tend to opt out.
In other words, on average, students hook up once a semester, not once a weekend.
She says that the problem is not the hookup itself, but the culture of hookups.
—but I remember being flabbergasted by what my peers at other colleges were dealing with.
Since then, it’s possible that hookup culture has become more dominant and devious.
In its place, we need casual sex that is kinder, and a more widespread embrace of “the practices that enhance sexual encounters—communication, creativity, tolerance, confidence, and knowledge.” While I’m all for kindness, I was struck by what was missing from the list: commitment.
Research suggests that commitment is one predictor of women’s orgasm and sexual enjoyment—so why doesn’t Wade mention that in her discussion of the orgasm gap?
In the couple of pages devoted to them, Wade suggests that these students are more risk-averse because they have already gone to great lengths to get to college and may need to study harder to make up for subpar high school education or work to pay their way through school, leaving less time for partying.